Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > 3,564 Clappers Later

Patience and Practice

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

In which the dancing takes a turn for the worse.

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Published: 2017-07-20 - 3148 words - Complete

Chapter 10 - Patience and Practice, Practice and Patience.

Teaching Sarah to dance was slower going than Jareth had anticipated. She kept wanting to lead of all things! It was endearing, trying, and so completely her that were it not for the goal at stake, it probably wouldn’t have bothered him so much. The website he had gotten most of his beginning information from had suggested simply walking around the room with one’s partner in the slightly off-center waltz stance to get used to walking between each other’s legs - and not on each other’s feet. The partners Jareth was accustomed to had been trained to dance as soon as they could walk and it was so second-nature that he had never had to worry about these little things before. For the new dances, he would have to lead her from the shoulder instead of the waist and while the physical contact had been initially exciting at first, it was beginning to wear on him now: she simply had to learn to follow! She was so stubborn, so afraid to relinquish the position of power. He could practically ooze charm and attention and she would do it for about two seconds and that was it. He couldn’t bespell her - it would ruin the whole exercise. Having enough of walking for one session he stepped out of position abruptly and got a drink of water. Surprised - but not entirely, she followed suit. He set down his water glass on the end table and sighed.

“You’ve never done this type of dancing in your life, have you?”

“Gee, is it really that obvious, wow,” she countered sarcastically.

“But surely you must dance. Dance is a part of the human mechanism.”

“It’s nothing I’d do in public,” she gave a self-deprecating laugh. “I can do a sort of two-step if I have to but that’s it.”

He shook his head, both from disbelief and not entirely believing her; she had to let loose sometime, even if it was just in the privacy of her own room. Once she learned the steps, maybe she’d gradually be able to open up more publicly, it was a matter of coaxing her out of her protective shell. For the time being, it was demonstration time again.

“After a cursory glance at these dances I think we should start with the Rumba - it looks like the easiest. There is, however, one little thing that you must learn to do before learning the steps or it well come together very awkwardly and that’s ‘Cuban movement’. Why it is called Cuban movement I haven’t the vaguest idea; it isn’t cube-like in the least. Perhaps it’s named after someone.” This was received with uproarious laughter. “What is it now?” he asked dryly.

“It’s a country - Cuba!”

“Nevermind. So,” he seamlessly continued, not about to let her see him embarrassed over his lack of certain knowledge, “what it is is a swaying motion of sorts that involves most of the body. When you step together you don’t just step - the knee bends inward slightly and the hip dips with it, stretching the ribcage, like so,” and he proceeded to do it fluidly back and forth, alternating feet. It was only a basic dance step but it was far more sensual than Sarah was prepared to deal with, especially in what he was wearing. She flushed, averting her eyes.


“What? This is how it is done. It’s simple enough. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, try it.”

“It’s just that…I can’t!”

Ah, so I wasn’t dreaming, you are attracted to me naturally… “Am I so difficult to look at?”

“Yes. No. I-” she made an incoherent sound of frustration and threw her arms up in the air, pacing away. He had anticipated this being hard but he hadn’t been entirely ready to handle this.

Maybe…Walking back over to the computer terminal, he called back up the website tutorial with the free video clip. “Then practice by yourself. I shall return in half an hour.”

She looked up, surprised. “Where are you going?”

“To get something that will hopefully help.”

Okay… “Take the map from the car so you don’t get lost.”

“Done,” he smiled.

She finally turned to see him: it was already in his hand and he was out the door. She let out a huge sigh of relief - there was no way she was going to live through this. Dragging her hands over her face she walked back to the monitor and hit the play button on the screen. Jareth was right - it was painfully easy once you got the feel for it. It just wasn’t easy looking at him. After a while Sarah felt like she could do it in her sleep and started perusing the rest of the clips. The rumba was pretty straightforward: just stepping out to the sides and back and the couple sort of traveled in a haphazard manner. Not a bad starter, Cuban motion aside. She was watching the Cha-Cha when Jareth came back in with a bag of purchases.

“Hey, what did you get?”

“You have trouble watching me because you know me, do you not?” Sarah didn’t feel obligated to answer that; it was a leading question and she was pretty sure he already knew the answer. “What if you didn’t know me? Or failing that, at least couldn’t see my face?” And with that he pulled out a very cheap-looking Mardi Gras mask - just a bit of shiny gold plastic on a string.

Sarah suddenly felt cold. “Jareth…”

His expression was one of immediate sympathy but she had to get over this, too. Two birds with one stone was the human phrase.

“It’s only in play, Sarah,” he said quietly. “I got both of us a few. Want to see?” he said with an inviting half-smile.

Sarah took a deep breath and walked over to the couch. He joined her and set the bag down between them. Inside was another cheap Mardi Gras mask - a green one - two dominoes (one white, one black), a Phantom of the Opera half-mask, and a more detailed mask of purple velvet with gold trim and three small purple plumes in the center. A veil of black lace hung down from the lower edge of the mask to conceal the rest of the face without obstructing the nose or mouth. It was attached with black ribbons. She ran her fingers over the velvet.

“A mask doesn’t do much if you can still read my mind.”

“I won’t when we wear these. I promise.”

She looked at him. He simply nodded with a little smile. He was giving her an out: the opportunity to hide her emotions from him, if only temporarily. It was such a caring gesture she could’ve cried. He quickly moved to divert her attention, picking up the white half-mask.

“This one was labeled Phantom of the Opera. Do you know why? I didn’t think it wise to ask the staff in case it was common knowledge.”

“It’s the name of one of the most popular Broadway musicals ever, it’s based on a book by the same name. Oh, a musical is a kind of play,” she interrupted herself. “A young girl opera singer is coached by this mysterious figure and he falls in love with her and he’s a nutcase and abducts her and her true love has to go save her from the clutches of the twisted maniac. Weird thing is the Phantom, I think his name was…Erik? Anyway - huge cult following for this character, a lot of women apparently feel sorry for him. Crazy romantic genius, you get the picture.”

Jareth looked hesitant. “…but he abducted her.”

“Oh, he’s an active murderer.”

“I’m beginning to see a pattern here,” he said a bit wryly. “I am deeply concerned for the state of your society, Sarah.”

“That makes two of us,” she laughed.

“…but would it bother you if I wore it?” She blinked.

“I don’t know. Hang on a minute,” and she picked up the purple velvet one and tied it onto her face. “Okay.”

He smiled at her choice of action and held the half-mask up to his face.

“…maybe later.”

“Silly it is, then!” he exclaimed, grabbing the gold plastic one and slipping the elastic over his head. It was almost a little small for his face but it just fit. In covering his face, however, he had only acted to accentuate his eyes and Sarah found herself blushing again to be receiving that much of his attention. She almost turned away - then remembered that he couldn’t see it and retained eye contact. “Shall we try again?” Sarah got up, only to quickly sit back down.

“Jareth, I don’t know if this is going to work. Isn’t there something else you haven’t tried yet? Anything at all?”

“Anything else would put you at risk for physical harm! I deliberately saved this for later once you had gotten to know me a bit better and hopefully could trust me a little bit more.”

“I know, I know, it’s just…does it have to be so…”

“Fun?” he teased her.



“No!” she laughed.

“I don’t have two left feet, dear.”

“No, but you do have a -” Sarah suddenly clamped her hand over her mouth, eyes wide in shock and surprise at what she’d almost let slip. Jareth actually looked down at himself and Sarah modestly averted her gaze.

“Perhaps a change of attire is what should be in order,” he said quietly. His normal shirt and the offending breeches disappeared and were replaced with modern black slacks and a flamboyantly shiny, purple dress shirt that was open almost halfway down his smooth, ivory chest, his pendant framed by it. His hair was pulled back tightly in the low ponytail. “Is this better?” he asked her gently. Thoroughly embarrassed, Sarah nodded but she was trying to suppress a laugh about the shirt - he could tell by the way she was leaning forward.


“You and your thing for glitz.”

“But this is what they wear on ‘Dancing with the Stars’!”

“I’m not saying anything,” she shook her head, smiling. But she was getting up.

You just did, he thought, inclining his head at her decision.

“Okay, now that mask looks ridiculous with what you have on. Try one of the dominoes.”

Amused at how picky she was suddenly being, he complied with a quirk smile. To her surprise it was the white one.

“The lady traditionally wears the black.”

“…do I have to right now?”

“No.” He lead her back to the center of the room with a teasingly congenial little smile. Reassuming dance position, he began to count out the steps as mechanically as possible, trying to keep his eyes as unmoved as stone. Sarah simply wasn’t ready for the sensuality of the dance and he reasoned that her body would simply take over when she was. “Out right…left…together, together, out left…right…together, together, and again…good…are we remembering our Cuban?…Relax your shoulders.”

“Have you ever taught like this before?”

“No. How am I doing?”

“You sound like a professional.”

“In that case I’m either a quick study or this is the simplest profession in the world,” he smiled.

He has a real talent for this, Sarah thought. How could I have thought that he couldn’t do anything useful here? She wasn’t about to admit it but she was almost beginning to secretly enjoy herself. God, Jareth was a headache sometimes but she hadn’t been this close to a man in years and the fact of it was both extremely daunting and electrifying. Was that the point? She suddenly thought. Was attraction a way someone had power over you? The thought was as stunning as it was uneasy and Sarah had to swallow a fair amount of trepidation. Whatever he’s up to, at least he can’t lie to me; I can grill him if I have to, she reassured herself as he began to travel with her. Music slowly came out of nowhere and filled the room. He had been guarded before but it was slipping - he was opening smiling now and it was making her giddy; she could feel her heart treacherously going just a little bit faster. There was no secrecy here - he was genuinely enjoying himself. And her. Now that part was weird. It was almost too much too fast. Jareth sensed her unease and quickly stopped the music and the dance to her surprise, taking off his mask and carelessly tossing it aside. There was both knowledge and understanding in his eyes, she didn’t have to say one word.


He caught her in a sudden bear-hug and she gasped in surprise.

“Thank you for putting up with me,” he whispered in her ear before releasing her, walking away. Dumbfounded, Sarah untied her mask and took it off, looking from it to him and back again, pondering.


Two hours later, after a lot of arguing and a little cajoling, Sarah finally managed to convince Jareth that Denver was not Rio de Janeiro; there was no point to learning a bunch of difficult dances when they wouldn’t be able to find a single venue in the entire city that had them. They were sticking to the ‘nightclub set’: the cha-cha and the tango. Jareth hadn’t been sure if she’d been comfortable enough to continue or if they should call it a day but Sarah insisted that she was fine when he knew darn well from her body language that she wasn’t, that she was forcing herself to do this for his sake. Nevertheless, she donned her mask again and strode stiffly to the center of the room again, waiting for him. She deserved far more respect for what she was doing than his circumstances would allow, so he decided to play along for the time being - at least until the façade cracked: it was a possibility he did not savor but if she was going to try, he should, too. Putting back on the plastic mask as if it were the most dignified thing in the world to do, he paced over to her, beginning his lecture.

“The Cha-cha has a few more steps than the rumba but it is also far more versatile in that it can be danced in traditional position or by yourself simply facing your partner. In the latter case, the arms are bent in and held in a semi-relaxed stance, like so,” and he demonstrated, doing a few quick, close dance steps. “Shall we try?”

“Could we do it open first?”

“Of course,” he smoothly accommodated her; this was precisely why he had chosen this one next. “So your steps are out right, left front, together, and two quick traveling steps to the left, the ‘cha-cha’ part. The other side: out left, back right, together, and the traveling steps in the opposite direction. Try it again just a little bit faster…good…you still need the Cuban…that’s right…don’t overstate it so much…better. Once this is up to tempo you won’t have a lot of time for large movement so try to keep everything compact. Ready?”

She nodded. Once again music filtered in from out of nowhere. His steps mirror to hers, he was dancing the symmetrically just across from her. He was trying to remain serious but a smile was creeping into the corner of his mouth. He had been right - the dance moved at a pretty good clip and she felt the tug of the come-hither on her ankles on more than one occasion. She finally tripped up on the timing and he stopped the music.

“Would you like to try it together now?”

Her eyes darted to the floor and she nodded. Taking the lead, he slowly resumed with her, gradually bringing her up to tempo. A light smile graced his features as the music began to play again - she wasn’t fighting him anymore. It had been acutely embarrassing and even a bit degrading for Sarah to have to admit that it was easier to dance if he led. His triumphant little smile said it all: he was winning. Part of her violently rebelled against what he was actively trying to do, it felt so wrong trying to break her like this, so horribly wrong. But there was the temptation to relax, to simply give in to the charms and attentions of the Goblin King. She was beginning to feel sickened by the idea - that she was snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by being submissive, she had never really thought of it that way before - and suddenly stopped, walking out of his grasp. He silently nodded, looking resignedly at the floor, stopping the music.

“No more today, then,” he said quietly.

She unexpectedly turned on him. “No! No more!” she exclaimed, ripping off the mask. “I know you’re trying to get home but I am a human being, not some brainless little pawn, and I don’t appreciate the fact that you’re trying to break me! Do whatever you need to do, just… just leave me out of it, okay? I’m done with this, I can’t take it anymore,” she shook her head, retreating to her room, shutting the door.

Bloody brilliant, he silently berated himself, taking off his mask and dejectedly throwing it on the coffee table before sitting down in the recliner. He had obviously pushed her way too far and now she was shutting him out. He thought he hadn’t been hurting her by compromising her a bit but apparently he had underestimated her humanness yet again. Will had to be part of her survival instinct and it would be completely impossible to separate her from even a smidgen of it. No, she was right, she had given her all and he just kept taking when there was nothing left to give. She was right to be angry with him. But there was nothing for it now. He would simply let her be and see what he could wrench out of the staff - perhaps it would be enough, he had never pushed its limits before but now seemed the time to try. Let her alone, let her heal. Perhaps he would, too.
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